October 2nd, 2012 at 11:45am
We bet you didn’t know that Volkswagen has the highest number of employees in the global automotive industry, topping half a million. September light-vehicle sales plummeted in France, making a bad situation even worse. Toyota’s chairman, Fujio Cho was denied permission to land his jet in Beijing as tensions between China and Japan escalate. All that and more, plus John responds to questions and comments in “You Said It!”
Hello and welcome to Autoline Daily. It’s the second of October, I’m John McElroy and here’s the news.
THE PEOPLE’S EMPLOYER
Here’s an amazing fact that most people in the automotive industry are unaware of. Volkswagen has the highest number of employees in the global automotive industry. It employs 520,000 workers. That’s more than General Motors, Ford and Chrysler put together, with another 82,000 employees on top of that. In the first half of this year, VW built 200,000 fewer vehicles than General Motors, and it needed 310,000 more people to build them. Now most MBAs would tell you that means VW is horrifically inefficient. But so far this year VW has posted $7.7 billion in operating profits, versus $4.6 billion for GM. This proves VW’s corporate structure of autonomous companies under a group umbrella is far more profitable than other automakers’ top-down command-and-control approach.
BLOOM OFF AMERICAN ROSE
And unless the U.S. gets its financial and political house in order, VW is going to hire more Mexicans than Americans. Volkswagen of America’s CEO Jonathan Browning tells the Brooking Institute that the group built a new assembly plant for Audi in Mexico because it makes more sense to export vehicles from Mexico than the United States. He says the U.S. is losing its allure as a place for foreign investment.
FRENCH REVOLUTION (subscription required)
The media frenzy swirling around the Paris Motor Show is finally dying down and the harsh sting of reality is setting in. According to WardsAuto.com things are going from bad to worse in France. Light-vehicle sales plummeted more than 17 percent last month. Renault and PSA were both down around 17 points, as was Volkswagen. Fiat dropped about 28 percent while Ford fell by nearly 30! I’m telling you, these scary numbers and it’s only going to get worse.
The Germans thought they may be immune from all this but Audi is temporarily suspending production at its Neckarsulm plant for the first week of October, due to slow sales. It makes the A4 Sedan, the new A6 and the flagship A8.
It’s rare when an automaker releases a spy photo of an upcoming vehicle, but that’s just what GM has done. The General is starting to promote is redesigned full-size pickups, which launch next year. To hype the release a snapshot of a camouflaged next-gen Chevy Silverado has been let loose. From this shot the truck looks pretty similar to today’s version but it should receive extensive engineering changes.
In another sign of the growing tension between China and Japan, the China Car Times reports that Toyota’s chairman, Fujio Cho, was denied permission to land his jet in Beijing. Ironically, he was traveling to China to discuss business and political ties because of the anti-Japanese riots and a growing trend of Chinese companies refusing to work with Japanese suppliers.
AUF WIEDERSEHEN, ÖSTERREICH!
Did you know that Magna Steyr, a subsidiary of Canadian automotive group Magna, builds MINIs in Austria for BMW? Neither did I but that might not be the case much longer. According to Reuters, Magna may not build next-generation Mini models because BMW wants to consolidate production at Mini’s Oxford plant in England and at the NedCar plant in the Netherlands which is operated by Dutch group VDL. Magna currently makes the Countryman and later in the year will start manufacturing the Paceman. Magna Steyr has built cars for BMW since 2003.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
Jim Taylor saw our report on Peugeot’s concept car, the Onyx, with those copper door and fender panels. He says, “Imagine coming out from a store to find someone had ripped the body panels off your car for the copper. If they’ll cut a 12″ section out of a supply line to the restroom sink at the local fast food place, they’ll do it to a car.” Jim’s right, of course. After all, thieves will steal catalytic converters just for the platinum.
Gmveteran is dismayed by the Greek government subsidizing the construction of a new Formula One track. “Formula for Disaster: Greek government subsidizes new F1 track, employs some Greeks in its construction, due to poor economy very few Greeks can afford to attend races, F1 abandons this venue, government forecloses on the track, track closes but continues to cost government money in maintenance and property taxes.” GMveteran, I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Pedro Fernandez wants to know, “How do these autonomous vehicles react when an animal darts in front of the car? Will it stop, will it just run it over, what if its a family of ducklings following the mama duck like I see all the time around here. A cat, a dog, a deer a midget? I mean these are decisions only a human can make.” Actually Pedro, that is no longer the case. Autonomous cars, which use video cameras and ultrasonic sensors can see just as well as humans. In fact, they can see better, since these sensors can see in the dark, in the driving rain or snow and in heavy fog. Google’s autonomous car has successfully avoided dogs that ran into the road.
We’ve got a couple of viewers who are bummed out there will not be an Autoline After Hours this Thursday night. M360 says, “We will miss you and Peter this Thursday night! AAH has become the “thing to do” on Thursdays.” And HTG adds, “Sadly, I guess I’ll be drinking alone this Thursday.” Just like George Thoroughgood, eh HTG?
In the next couple of weeks we’ll have some great guests on AAH. Next week we have Candace Wheeler, the foremost fuels expert at General Motors, and after that we’ll have John Jraiche, the chief engineer on the Ford Fusion, and he’ll be brining one of them into the studio. And just to give you all something to look at this Thursday, we’ll be replaying our live webcast from the Paris Auto Show, just in case you didn’t see it.
Anyway, that wraps up today’s report, thanks for watching, please join us again tomorrow.